Brentford are in a prime position to finally gain promotion to the Premier League for the very first time, but it’s not going to be easy between now and the end of the season.
One of the main factors for Brentford’s great form this season is the goals of Ivan Toney, who joined before the start of the season in an £5 million deal from Peterborough, but it will almost certainly rise to £10 million due to added clauses.
He’s replaced the goals of Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins – the duo who departed for the Premier League for a combined fee of around £49 million – smart business indeed from the Bees.
Like Toney, Watkins came from a lower league club having been at league Two side Exeter City before Brentford took a £1.8 million punt on him in 2017 – a punt that ended up with huge profit.
And if Brentford do fail to get promoted this season once again, Toney will be the one who moves on for big money, with Premier League clubs circling such as Leeds United and West Ham.
A replacement would then be needed for Toney, and Brentford could do worse than look at Mallik Wilks of Hull City to replace the goals that the 24-year-old has provided.
There’s no doubting that Wilks has had a troubled past – last summer he avoided prison time for being involved in an attack when he was 18 years old – but he’s got his head down since and has fired in 20 goals this season in all competitions for the Tigers in 40 outings (transfermarkt).
Wilks is a product of the Leeds academy, but it was a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers in 2018/19 that put him on the map.
He scored 14 goals in League One that season, and it secured him a permanent transfer to Barnsley, but he wasn’t fancied by Gerhard Struber and he was eventually shipped out to Hull on loan.
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Five goals in the Championship later and Wilks had secured a permanent deal with the Tigers for their League One season following relegation, and up to now he has a one in two ratio in the league after netting 17 times in 34 games.
Wilks has many strengths to his game – he’s powerful, quick, explosive, has a fearsome shot but also doesn’t lack in composure and agility, whilst he’s also extremely versatile and can play through the middle and on the left or right.
He has shown signs of immaturity still at the age of 22 – a recent spat with team-mates Josh Magennis and Lewie Coyle over a penalty against AFC Wimbledon angered some of his own fans – but there’s a consensus that he’s matured in the last few years a lot and Grant McCann ended up playing down that incident.
Brentford were this week linked to Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles, who has netted 16 times in 30 League One games this season – a better ratio than Wilks – but he is three years older and doesn’t have the same pedigree or explosiveness and unpredictability of the Hull forward.
That is why Wilks would be a perfect signing for the Bees – he may cost a few million pounds but Hull aren’t exactly rich and they would have to consider a decent offer regardless of which league they are in next season, whether that is the Championship or League One once again.